The Woolwich Wave swim team kicked off the 2017 season with their first meet in Fergus on June 24.
Some 35 swimmers from the team competed in a variety of events against the other South Western Ontario Recreational Swimming Association (SWORSA) swim teams, the Fergus Flippers and Kincardine Kippers.
“Everything went really smoothly,” said Erin Schmidt, Woolwich Wave team manager. “Generally speaking, everybody did really well.”
The team came away with five wins in the individual medley, seven wins in freestyle, three wins in backstroke, five wins in the breaststroke and seven wins in the butterfly.
Swimmers are allowed to enter three individual events, as well as competing in relay events. They choose from four options for the individual events, and the medley relay or free relay for team events.
“We do four different strokes, and different combinations. Freestyle, which is normally front crawl – you can swim anyway you want, but pretty much everybody does front crawl because it is the fastest – backstroke, breast stroke and butterfly,” she said, noting that depending on the age group they compete at different lengths of the pool.
Swimmers are required to pass a pool swim test to participate, meaning that they must complete at least Level 4 swimming instruction, or be able to swim at least two pool length laps without support.
The club, which meets Tuesday and Thursday nights at the Woolwich Memorial Centre pool, allows for swimmers from ages 6-18 the opportunity to work on swimming skills while having fun and enjoying competitions throughout the summer.
“It is quite an age difference. It is actually quite fun, because the younger kids get a kick out of seeing the older kids swim,” she said, going on to add it is great to watch the kids compete over the years as they get older.
This year, the organization has just over 45 kids registered.
Schmidt says the sport allows for kids to enjoy exercise, fall in love with a sport they can enjoy their entire lives and facilitate friendships.
“It is a pretty amazing exercise. I see a huge difference in my kids,” she said. “I think it is kind of a lifelong thing; looking at them now, I kind of wish that I had done something like this when I was a kid. A lot of people swim when they get older as exercise.
“Even though it is an individual competition for the most part, a lot of the kids who train all year round have some really great friends. As a competitive sport it really is a lot of fun.”
Swimmers train throughout the year, with three sessions annually. Prior to the current summer session, which runs May to August, there’s the winter session, January to April, and the fall session running between the summer and winter sessions.
“We get different kids at different times of the year, but there are a core group of them who train all year long,” she said.
The summer session offers the chance for competitive events. The Woolwich team competes in four swim meets each summer against the SWORSA swim teams. Following Fergus last month, there’s Kincardine on July 8, the semi-finals held in Elmira on July 29, and the finals held in Wilmot in August.
“It is very intense for a few weeks, but it is not like it’s all year. It is a very ‘recreationally competitive club’,” she said. “It’s a pretty big commitment, but it is fun in the summer for these couple of months.”
In addition to the commitment by parents to facilitate youth swimming, Schmidt said the team is supported by a lot of parents who volunteer at the meets with marshaling, timing and logistics to make sure they run smoothly over the summer.